HHS details how it is distributing COVID-19 treatment remdesivir

HHS offered details on the initial allocations of the COVID-19 treatment remdesivir after criticism from some lawmakers over a lack of transparency. (Gilead Sciences)

Health and Human Services announced the initial allocation of donated experimental COVID-19 treatment remdesivir, with New York getting the most doses.

Drug manufacturer Gilead Sciences who makes remdesivir, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on May 1 for emergency use, has committed to supplying about 607,000 vials of the drug over the next six weeks. So far, 1,244 cases have been distributed or planned to be allocated to 13 states, according to Health and Human Services in a release on Saturday.

Early last week, the agency provided an initial allocation of 884 cases—each case containing 40 vials—to Indiana (38 cases), Virginia (33), Tennessee (7), New Jersey (94), Massachusetts (117), Rhode Island (30) and New York (565).

On May 7, the agency delivered more cases to these states: Connecticut (30 cases), New Jersey (110), Michigan (40), Maryland (30), Iowa (10) and Illinois (140).

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“State health departments will distribute the doses to appropriate hospitals in their states because state and local health departments have the greatest insight into community-level needs,” HHS said.

Providers interested in administering the donated doses should contact their local health department.

“Candidates for the donated doses must be patients on ventilators or on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or who require supplemental oxygen due to room-air blood oxygen levels at or below 94%,” HHS added.

The agency expects to deliver donated cases to all 50 states including territories, Indian Health Service and Veterans Affairs facilities.

HHS’ release and details on allocation comes after criticism on how the first doses have been distributed.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., wrote to HHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency on May 8 over reports that the Trump administration has failed to equitably distribute the drug to areas hit hard by COVID-19 cases.

“Given the staggering racial and ethnic disparities that have emerged during this pandemic, an equitable distribution of remdesivir is necessary to address and reduce the adverse COVID-19 health outcomes in the African American, Latinx, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Pacific Islander communities,” the letter said.